There is a "50-50" chance the Minnesota Timberwolves' heralded draft pick Ricky Rubio(notes) will play for the NBA team next season, a source close to Rubio told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday. Another source indicated that the team's chances might even be better than that.
"They are becoming much more optimistic that they are going to get him," an Eastern Conference executive told Yahoo! Sports.
The source in Rubio's camp said it would behoove the Timberwolves to move swiftly in trying to secure Rubio, as there also is strong interest in him from international teams, and Rubio is expected to make a decision soon.
While not divulging Rubio's preference, the source added that the Timberwolves' choice for their next coach among ABC NBA analyst Mark Jackson, Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis and Houston Rockets assistant coach Elston Turner also will factor into Rubio's decision as to whether to join Minnesota. The team is expected to hire a coach as early as Friday or as late as Monday, a source has told Yahoo! Sports. Jackson is being viewed as the front-runner for the position.
Minnesota has pledged to pay a maximum of $500,000 toward Rubio's mammoth $8.2 buyout clause with his current club, Spain DKV Joventut. Spain Regal FC Barcelona reportedly also is interested in the fifth overall pick in this year's NBA Draft. Rubio is expected to depart from DKV Joventut even if he and the Timberwolves cannot reach a deal.